BSci, PhD Melb, AO
|Chancellor of the
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
|Preceded by||Dennis Gibson|
|Alma mater||University of Melbourne
Zygmunt Edward "Ziggy" Switkowski, AO (born 1948 in Germany), is a Polish Australian businessman and nuclear physicist. Switkowski is mostly known as the former chief executive officer of Australia's largest telecommunications company Telstra, and for overseeing major aspects of the implementation and planning of its full privatisation through tranche sales (known as the "T1", "T2" and "T3" sales). In 2011, Switkowski was appointed the Chancellor of RMIT University. Dr Switkowski is Chairman of Nbn (telecommunications company) and of the Suncorp Group and a Director of listed companies Healthscope Ltd, Oil Search Ltd and Tabcorp Holdings.
Switkowski was born in Germany in 1948 to Polish parents. His family migrated to Australia when he was one year old. He was raised in Melbourne, and attended St Bernard's College in Essendon – a suburb of Melbourne. He then studied at the University of Melbourne, where he earned a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in nuclear physics (at age 24), and went on to complete six years of postdoctoral research. In 1993, he graduated from the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School.
Before his tenure at Telstra, Switkowski served as chief executive officer of the telecommunications company Optus and the photographic equipment company Kodak (Australasia). He also served as chairman and managing director of Kodak (Australasia) from 1992 to 1996. During this time, he also served as a non-executive director of the multinational packaging company Amcor from 1995 to 1999.
In 1995, Switkowski received the Advance Australia Award for outstanding achievement in industry and commerce.
On 1 March 1999, Switkowski was appointed chief executive officer of Australia's public and largest telecommunications company Telstra, and to the board of directors of Telstra's pay television partner Foxtel. Before his appointment, he was group managing director of Telstra's Business and International Development division.
During his tenure at Telstra, Switkowski oversaw the introduction of a number of services to the company; such as its major internet service provider subsidiary BigPond, and substantial expansion of others; such as its advertising and directories subsidiary Pacific Access (later re-branded as Sensis in 2002).
Switkowski oversaw the implementation of the second tranche sale of Telstra (the 'T2' sale) on the Australian Stock Exchange, New Zealand Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange that began in September 1999. The first tranche sale of Telstra (the 'T1' sale) took place before Switkowski was appointed CEO of Telstra. He also oversaw the planning for the third tranche sale of Telstra (the 'T3' sale).
On 3 October 2013, Switkowski was confirmed as the new chairman and interim CEO of NBN Co by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and reverted to the role of Non-Executive Chairman from 2 April 2014 following the appointment of Bill Morrow as Chief Executive Officer. His current term expires on 2 October 2016.
On 6 June 2006, Switkowski was appointed to chair a Commonwealth Government inquiry into the viability of a domestic nuclear power industry. He was later appointed chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) by federal Minister for Science Julie Bishop on 4 March 2007. Switkowski was originally appointed to the board of ANSTO on 1 January 2006, but stood down when appointed to the inquiry. After the completion of the inquiry, he was then reappointed to the board as chairman on 1 March 2007. His term as chairman concluded at the end of 2010.
The inquiry concluded that Australia is well positioned to increase its production and export of uranium as well as adding nuclear power to its own energy mix. However, an independent panel of Australian scientists and nuclear experts have been critical of these findings, claiming that they relied upon flawed assumptions while dodging important questions such as the disposal of radioactive waste and the potential greenhouse gas implications of increased mining.
On 19 September 2005, Switkowski took a non-executive director role with Suncorp-Metway – his first position after resigning from Telstra. Since then he has become the chairman as of the 2011 Annual General Meeting.
In 2006, Switkowski was appointed president of the board of directors of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image on 1 January – for a three-year term. He also took non-executive director roles with Healthscope on 19 January, and with Tabcorp Holdings on 2 October.
In 2011 Switkowski was serving as a director of Rare Earth's miner Lynas Corporation as per the director's Share Purchase Notice.
Switkowski is also a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD) and also of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE)
Switkowski currently serves on the Board of Oilsearch.
On 27 October 2010, it was announced that Switkowski would become the Chancellor of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University). He was officially appointed to the position on 1 January 2011.
In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Switkowski was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for "distinguished service to the community, particularly to tertiary education administration, scientific organisations and the telecommunications sector, to business, and to the arts".
- Seselja, Louis. 1999. Portrait of Ziggy Switkowski. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 4 June 2007
- "Ziggy Switkowski BSc (Hons), PhD, FAICD, FTSE". Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Biography – Zygmunt E Switkowski. Suncorp-Metway. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Amcor Board Changes. 11 March 1999. Amcor. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- The Telstra Story. Telstra. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Murry, Lisa. Kruger, Colin. 20 September 2005. Sun comes out for Ziggy Switkowski. The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Ziggy Switkowski confirmed as chairman of NBN Co by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
- Uranium mining, processing and nuclear energy – opportunities for Australia
- Media Release 24 Nov 2006: Response to UMPNER draft report
- Media Release: Ziggy Switkowski announced as new ACMI Board President. 24 November 2005. Office of the Premier of Victoria. Government of Victoria. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Media Release: Dr Ziggy Switkowski appointed to the Tabcorp Board. 19 December 2005. Tabcorp Holdings. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Wilson, Ashleigh. 3 December 2008. "Ziggy Switkowski new Opera Australia chairman after Gordon Fell resigns". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved: 28 October 2010
- Oilsearch notice to ASX Dated 19th FEB 2014
- Dr Ziggy Switkowski appointed Chancellor – Openline (RMIT News), 27 October 2010. Retrieved: 28 October 2010
- "The Queen's Birthday 2014 Honours List" (PDF). 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- PR's for the judge. 10 September 2005. The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved: 16 November 2010.
- Ziggy goes nuclear – ABC Interview
- Ziggy Switkowksi Interview – CEO Forum Group
- Greens slam Ziggy's Tas nuclear vision
- 'Ex-Telstra chief to head nuclear review' ABC News, 6 June 2006
- 'Nuclear costs understated: report's critics' Sydney Morning Herald, 22 November 2006
- 'Peer review panel says Switkowksi's nuclear timeframe is unrealistic' The World Today – Tuesday, 12 December 2006 12:29:00
- Switkowski appointed ANSTO chairman, ABC News Online 4 March 2007